Wow, things have come a long way.
I started my career early – I was in high school when I was an intern at Corgan, Associates in Dallas, and later went into full time employment with them at the age of 19. At that time, my primary use of communication was phone and fax. So many faxes. We were one of the few architectural firms with Internet access for all employees, and email addresses for everyone. My business card had an email address on it. I was so cool.
One of the biggest structural and civil engineering outfits we worked with had one email address. It was an AOL account. Many architectural firms were still drawing by hand. My 17” monitor weighed like 80 lbs and cost over $2,000. I’m just making this up, but today I bet my phone has as much internet bandwidth as our whole office did.
I’m in Tulsa right now doing some market research. I just looked at my last 24 hours and thought about what a difference 20 years makes:
- Finished up a scheme on an 8-story hotel I’m including in a 100 acre master plan. Started rendering a long video on a separate machine (it’s still working back at the office)
- Finished up an interactive user questionnaire for a project in schematic design.
- Cleaned up and included revisions to a floor plan on a new single-family project.
- Pushed a lot of paper with a project under construction, issued updated drawings to reflect questions submitted by the contractor, as well as incorporating shop drawing details into the architectural for coordination.
- Visited the jobsite above.
- Met with the single-family house client on their site, had a full design meeting, flew a drone over the house to get a better idea of their current roof lines (also for cool pics).
- Drove to Tulsa, listening to entrepreneurial podcasts most of the way.
- Issued meeting minutes in the morning, with drone pictures from the visit mentioned above.
- Adjusted schedule, sent out status requests from consultants, etc. on a self-storage redevelopment we are going to close on in less than 30 days.
- Had a conference call with video sharing from my hotel room.
- Continued to work on BIM model for self-storage building for a consultant re kick off after revisions from conference call.
- Write a blog post (this part only took 20 minutes, complete with finding pictures)
- I have had a nine-month-old with me this entire time, solo (the wife is traveling).
A lot of my days are like this but sometimes I don’t look back on things and say – when I started in this business, how long would have all of that taken me? I’m lucky enough to have a diverse book of work, I think I have a good product, and top tier professional visualizations. When I started in 1996, everyone worked on one project with a lot of other people with very little task switching, and everyone sat at their desk. One guy went out and did construction administration work in the field. Tasks that would have taken me days or weeks back then just seem to take no time. My work flow is in waves, with time to reflect and consider, followed by lots of execution. I love it.
Two unsung heroes in this:
- I have an awesome baby. I have taken him everywhere since he was two weeks old, and he can hold his own. He’s starting to get a little grouchy in meetings, but he hangs in there. He even sits with me and watches me on the rower every day.
- I lean on technology. Hard. And it works every day.
I’ve been a road warrior since 2002, when people carried multiple blackberries and we all had 1000 cables from Targus to charge all of our various things with proprietary cables and 20 lb laptops. Oh and our dress shirts were white, big and puffy. At that time I was also a student and had to carry textbooks with all of that through the airport. Even THAT was miles away from my beginning at Corgan.
I guess this whole post is just a thank you to my son, for being awesome, and to our ever changing technology, which lets me put my hours in design and speed along the execution so I can spend more times getting things right (like taking shop drawing information and making sure alllllll of the grout joints in the cast stone line up just so with the limestone veneer).